Saturday, April 21, 2007

April 21, 2007 Dunlap, CA

This weekend was the rescheduled weekend for the rain-out last weekend. It looked like it would be a one-day affair since a front is approaching rapidly. The pre-frontal conditions should produce some good conditions though.

I got in from Beijing at 6pm yesterday & didn't sleep much, but I hauled my sorry butt out of bed at 5am for the 3 hour drive to Dunlap. There were 15-20 pilots at launch with 10 or so competing. The task was ambitious considering that the sky was 90% covered & cloudbase was only 6000' or less. A quick southerly run to Sontag Pk. then West to Hill 49917 then SW to Bald Mtn. The long leg (16 miles) to Cutler (in the flats) then back to Squaw Valley (goal). A total of 46 miles.

Conditions at launch were weak but sufficient to get to cloud base & then start the task at noon. I wasn't far behind the leaders & I was amazed at how well the Aspen2 was able to cover the miles. Jug & I flew together for 6 miles pimping each other to make it to Bald Mtn. It was here that I made a critical error & headed towards an area that Tom & others had been thermalling about 10 minutes earlier. The shade had moved & shut down the area. When I realized the lift wasn't there, I was already too low to return to the slope at Bald that was still in sun. This was the beginning of the end for me. Jug saw my error & was able to head back in time to work the lift & make the transition to the Cutler way point. . .

I learned a few lessons this flight. The first - that this wing can let me explore areas that were inaccessible on my old wing. I like that I can use 1/2 bar & not degrade the glide drastically.
I also really had it driven home (now that I'm not "tail-end-charlie" all the time) that this 'race' is one of strategy that requires cooperation with my fellow pilots & even use of my fellow pilots to indicate lift & sink. Today, hanging back a bit would have saved me. Jug did what I should have done. Next task I'll channel my competitive urges into strategic decisions, rather than just dashing into the next leg.

A good day with around 12 miles covered. . .

Tuesday, April 3, 2007

Flying at Laguna Lake

I spent the day in San Luis Obispo, getting "suspicious" things zapped by a MD., lopping off many of my hairs at Supercuts, eating at my favorite Mediteranean deli - Jaffa, & doing the weekly shopping for the Coffee house. After doing a tour of the big city, at about 2pm, I decided to hike out to the hill, if only to get a sweat going. I pulled the wing out of the truck & started hiking out wondering if it was a good idea, since I hadn't flown out there in a year & nobody else was there. I was worried about my well-documented lack of groundhandling skills & unsheathed upper cascades etc. . .but the wind looked perfect.
I laid out at the bottom of the hill & made a "If you don't hear from me in an hour, I'm laying on the ground by Laguna Lake" call. The wing came up & (amazingly) never touched the ground again until I landed an hour later. The walk-up was calm & easy & when I turned & flew, it was right into a nice little thermal with a friendly red-tailed hawk. The lift was smooth in most places with nice bumps of thermic air moving up the slope. It was easy to work the full length of the ridge & get high. The wind gradually shifted until it was parallel with the wires & gradually died down just about the time that I was thinking of landing anyway.
A nice, compleate day ;-)
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